Nowadays it’s hard to imagine being Jim ‘Speedy’ Kelly, the lone man with a camera in a crowd of 52,000 fans at the 1975 Pink Floyd show at Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Speedy’s footage gives a glimpse into an almost-forgotten moment in Hamilton history.
More than 50,000 hippies made a pilgrimage to the heart of Hamilton to see the psychedelic British band.
“When the gates got torn down, thousands of people poured in there,” said Rob Gronfors, who went to the concert when he was around 12 with his older brother.
A prolific concert videographer, Speedy caught bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin and Alice Cooper on Super 8 film.
When Speedy died in 2021, he left all of his films to Gronfors, his good friend — including the Pink Floyd concert at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Gronfors said the original Super 8 film was grainy, but he was approached by a few people who said they could restore the footage into 4K quality, with the help of artificial intelligence.
“Pink Floyd never recorded anything in 1975. It’s just not out there on any YouTube channels or anything,” Gronfors said.
The Ivor Wynne show was “like the Woodstock of Hamilton,” said Jacob Tutt, manager of Playhouse Cinema.
Tutt said footage of Pink Floyd was so rare in the 70s that most fans likely wouldn’t have recognized the band members.
“Through the 70s and 80s, there’s very little concert footage that’s out there to see of Pink Floyd playing,” he said.
Photos from the concert show the toll the 52,000 fans took on the quiet neighbourhoods surrounding the stadium.
Gronfors described the scene to CBC’s Commotion earlier this week.
“The stadium was right in the middle of a wartime-houses subdivision,” he said.
“They had the nice porches with the pillars and little tiny front yards to the street. Well, everybody’s front yard was just full of all these… hippies, I’ll say, passing joints around, drinking—just enjoying the day and having fun.”
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“It was the first major concert event that happened at Ivor Wynne Stadium,” Tutt said.
The promoter who booked Pink Floyd, Tutt said, had a number of other major acts set to play at stadium. But the Pink Floyd concert “set a precedent” against large concerts in the city for decades.
“There were never any concerts or major musical acts that played at Ivor Wynne Stadium until I think 2012, when The Tragically Hip played,” he said.
Gronfors said the show itself “made history.”
It was the last North American date of the ‘Wish You Were Here’ Tour, he said, and the band didn’t want to bring any leftover fireworks back to England.
“They decided to blow them all off. Let’s have a huge send off and and unfortunately some of them hit the scoreboard and wrecked the Hamilton Tiger Cats scoreboard,” he said.
Gronfors posts the restored footage shot by Speedy on the YouTube channel he created last year, where you can also see clips and hear audio from Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Rush, Cheap Trick and others from the 1970s. Gronfors, who goes by the name Dolph on the channel, also tells the stories of some of the shows.
But while the channel lets people watch the concerts at home, Gronfors said he knows Speedy would be happy his videos are being screened at a theatre.
“He would be ecstatic. He would be so happy. It makes my heart boom. You know, I’m a spiritual person, so Speedy is definitely there through my eyes. He’s definitely going, ‘Way to go, Dolph. Way to go.'”